I’ve been covering Chocolate & Cashmere since the inception of this blog.
Haleigh Palmer was born and raised in New Mexico, and founded her business on a cashmere hat she sold through an ad placed in the New Yorker. Two stores later (one here and one in Santa Fe), and a booming online presence, Haleigh’s Golightly cashmere line is now world famous, and more importantly, provides job opportunities locally, boosting our economy beyond tourism.
Her flagship store on the corner of Bent Street, where the road winds down to the other end, is a major destination spot for visitors to Taos, and when I was working on the Bent Street Series for the blog recently, I ran into Haleigh at Cids and mentioned it.
“Let’s wait and do a Holiday post instead,” she suggested. And whispered that she had something up her sleeve.
Then Joan came to town during Paseo weekend to house sit for photographer Bill Curry, who was back East for a week or two. While we ran around the streets together looking at the Art, she mentioned she and Billy were doing a shoot for Chocolate & Cashmere.
“But shhh, it’s a secret.” She said.
Joan and Billy go back to the 80’s when they were both at the top of their modelling game. Billy was the top male model in the world at the time, and it has been said that Joan Severance was the first “Supermodel.”
I lived in the city then as well, albeit hanging out in a different scene – Downtown music underground – but through Andy Warhol, music and fashion met and became mates! The two scenes often overlapped so we have a bit in common. Besides Joan and I share a birthday, and all three of us are Capricorns. Much alike, we also share an unspoken affinity and the ability to keep secrets.
So when she told me about the big secret, although I was extremely curious to say the least, I waited until the cat was out the proverbial bag, (Billy informed me of the shoot date), before I shot an email off to Haleigh. On the day of the shoot, Bill sent a series of behind the scenes images via Text Messaging. They were fabulous!
“We’re having such a great time,” he wrote. “ Haleigh will be in touch,” he added, accompanied by this picture you see of her snuggling up with Joan; both wrapped in layers of utter luxury! Apparently, I was now in on the secret!
In the following days, the answers to my questions and these fantastic shots arrived. I am sure you will love them as much as I do; from Billy and Joan looking positively Beatnik, to the most elegant couple in the room. Joan riffing on Audrey’s “Holly” Golightly – and both proving they still have what it takes to hold their own on the ‘Gram – both of course went on to other things. Joan is an author and actress and Bill is a world class photographer and sometime actor as well. But these gorgeous shots of this timeless duo, celebrate the Holiday Season with a nod to luxury and what that truly means.
For luxury goods have always been about sustainability. One bought an Hermes bag or a cashmere sweater made in Scotland, to last a lifetime. Bespoke goods were never cheap, but in earlier times they were valued. Hopefully with movements afoot challenging Fashion’s wasteful and harmful effects, we will return to those values and turn away from the somewhat vulgar, “more is more” mindset currently in vogue.
That said, the mouth-watering hues of Golightly cashmere make it hard to stop at just one of each! But they will, with love and care, last a lifetime, and make perfect gifts for all your favourite people, large and small.
And speaking of mouth-watering, what are the Holidays without chocolate?
1) Hi Haleigh, you have been super busy since last we spoke – two stores, more cashmere and a little bird tells me, more chocolate! Please do tell!
Yes, We have been working for the past six months on making our own line of chocolates. Recently, we hired Ana Ramos as our Head Chocolatier. Our flavors are exciting, original, and delicious. Examples include: Grapefruit Green Chile, Coconut Cardamom, Oatmeal Stout, Local Apricot, Lemon Milk. Our mission with the chocolate company is to use chocolate as a voice for our New Mexican community and our give back program will support the community as well– 10% of all profits will go back to Northern New Mexico in need. We hope to have all of our chocolates in the stores by December 1st.
2) Can you talk a bit about your great social media/Instagram video posts? They are super cool – covering artists who live in the Land of Enchantment and wear your cashmere!
We know that we are a part of an incredible community and we wanted to enter the dialog with the artist and makers who share the love for this place. We have been using interviews and local color to say who we are and what we value. Our you tube channel is a place that helps us drive the conversations while also organically improving our SEO stats. We are super proud of the fact that we make everything here in New Mexico; we want to share that.
3) You have shops here and in Santa Fe and go back and forth a lot – please tell us what keeps you coming back to Taos?
Taos is our home. IT is our community and where the business was born. It is true that Santa Fe has so many more people and exposure and it plays its own special role in the make up of what makes New Mexico so enchanting, but Taos is so unlike any place. In fact, 80% of our employees came from Taos to Santa Fe with us. Our connection there is palpable. Plus, it’s colder, we are skiers, and we need to test our products in the elements.
4) It’s the season for cashmere – what’s new in your line?
Our product line is fairly stable and designed to be classic and last a lifetime. A whole lot doesn’t change each season except color. This year, we are featuring a color called Iris which is a deep and dark but warm purple. It reads like eggplant and goes so well with every Navy, Brown or Black. It is unisex too. We released our women’s turtleneck this year which is a fantastic piece, as well as a cashmere garter belt and leg warmer combo.. muy sexy!
5) Tell us a little about this shoot with Billy and Joan.
Billy and Joan were a total treat to work with. Amazing how generous they were with themselves and their experience. Working with Pros like them meant the whole thing was elevated; it was a blast, a treat.. and the images show we think….
Lastly, I’ll direct you to an article written by The New Mexican recently. Click on the link to read.
Also, we are planning to expand our knitwear capacities and were awarded a TEAM fund award through the Regional Development Corporation for $20,000 to help us to buy a knitting machine to bring us in to the 20th century. Excited about that!
Thanks Haleigh! And Bill and Joan for this stunning collaboration. Timelessness is clearly the new Trendy.
For much more on Chocolate & Cashmere, please visit their site below and do follow them on Instagram!
All photographs by Bill Curry, Lindsay Kennedy and Nicole Cudzillo